Susan Ware taught acting, but not really.
In her classes, she sought to understand her students as people, to nurture their self-confidence.
“She was less concerned with what techniques we learned than with how we grew from the experience,” junior Reid Wilson told the Campus Times. “She wanted us to overcome our doubts and appreciate the strengths we already had. She was very understanding, and always encouraging.”
Ware, a longtime theater instructor, died late last week from complications with diabetes, according to her teaching partner for over a decade, Patricia Lewis Browne. She was 63.
Ware co-taught one class a semester with instructor Lewis Browne for the last 11 years. Ware, an experienced dancer, focused on movement for the actor.
“They loved her for her humor and unrestrained passion for them as people. Her commitment to her art was an inspiration to us all,” Lewis Browne said.
“Susan was an extraordinarily gentle, empathetic, and caring teacher (though she could become fierce if someone interrupted her class!) and she cared deeply about her students,” Nigel Maister, the International Theatre Program’s artistic director, said in an email, adding that many continued studying with her independently and remained in touch after graduation.
Ware taught in the community, too, with much of her work focusing on children with special needs and disabled people. As the assistant director for Geva Theatre’s production of “Over the Tavern” in 2011, Ware helped cast a young actor with Down syndrome for the role of a young man with Down syndrome, a first nationwide for that show, which had been put on 30 times prior.
She worked with Continuing Developmental Services, a nonprofit, teaching and performing with adults with developmental disabilities. She formed a dance troupe in 2011 called the Dance Connection, whose goal, according to a 2012 blog post about Ware from that nonprofit, was to give dancers the ability to teach others about dance and to show what people with disabilities can accomplish.
Senior Andria Rabenold was devastated by the news of Ware’s death — they had just talked a few weeks ago.
“She truly and deeply listened to everything I had to say,” Rabenold said. “She went above and beyond to make sure I felt supported in every endeavor I wanted to undertake, and is a major reason why I plan to pursue a career in acting after I graduate.”
Rabenold and Reid both remembered Ware’s penchant for storytelling.
“She had a dozen ready to go at any given time,” Rabenold said.